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The Professionals –

The Professionals

Sunday , 12, November 2023 1 Comment

There is a type of adventure story that is an off-shoot of the western set in Mexico in the early 20th Century during the Mexican Civil Wars. Frank O’Rourke’s The Professionals might be the first of those. Originally published as A Mule for the Marquesa in 1964, it was filmed as The Professionals in 1966 starring Lee Marvin, Woody Strode, Burt Lancaster, and Robert Ryan.

O’ Rourke (1916-1989) like so many western writers served in WW2 and started writing after the war. He was not really a pulp fictioneer. Most of his short fiction was in slick magazines such as Collier’s, Saturday Evening Post, and Equire. He did have a few stories in Adventure, Blue Book, and the digest Gun Smoke.

Late 1915, wealthy business man Augustus Grant hires soldier of fortune Henry Fardan to rescue his kidnapped wife in Mexico. A Mexican revolutionary, Raza, has gone free lance and holds Grant’s wife. Grant has until January 31s to either pay Raza or else.

Grant hires a group of men to pull off a rescue operation under Fardan’s command. Bill Dolworth, former partner of Fardan; Hans Ehrengard, former U.S. Army, expert with horses and mules; Fred Bisley, former U.S. Army and mercenary, expert with machine guns and bomb making; Danny Rios, expert with bow & arrow, caballero from the area of Mexico where Raza is holed up.

O’ Rourke has details on equipment used including dynamite, food, wather, ammunition, equipment. Fardan’s group has a slender of chance of making it on time undetected to rescue Grant’s Mexican wife.

There are periodic episodes of action as Fardan and company encounter Raza’s men and eliminate them. There are some problems along the way complicating their job.

The climax is great with the caper to rescue Grant’s wife. The movie has some changes. Lee Marvin played Fardan and made the former military man. The rescue is at a hacienda and there was no train sequence in the book.

I have read that Ben Haas writing as John Benteen modeled his character Neil Fargo on Lee Marvin’s portrayal of Fardan. I am a big fan of the Fargo books. They are full of action and even better, historically accurate and full of gun porn.

All you Fargo fans, check out Frank O’ Rourke’s The Professionals. I will be reading more O’ Rourke novels as I run across them in my used bookstore forays.

One Comment
  • Cro-Magnon Man says:

    Wot? Wot? Wot?
    No mention at all of the divine Claudia Cardinale.
    My gasts are well and truly flabbered.

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